Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Short Stories > Light O' The Morning > CHAPTER V. — “I AM ASHAMED OF YOU.”
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 It was late that same evening, and the household at the Castle had all retired to rest. Nora was in her own room. This room was not furnished according to an English girl's fancy. It was plain and bare, but, compared to Biddy Murphy's chamber, it was a room of comfort and even luxury. A neat carpet covered the floor, there were white dimity curtains to the windows, and the little bed in its distant recess looked neat and comfortable. It is true that the washhand-stand was wooden, and the basin and jug of the plainest type; but Mrs. O'Shanaghgan herself saw that Nora had at least what she considered the necessaries of life. She had a neat hanging-press for her dresses, and a pretty chest of drawers, which her mother herself had saved up her pin-money to buy for her.  
Nora now stood by one of the open windows, her thick and very long black hair hanging in a rippling mass over her neck and shoulders. Suddenly, as she bent out of the window, the faint, very faint perfume of a cigar came up on the night air. She sniffed excitedly for a moment, and then, bending a little more forward, said in a low tone:
“Is that you, Terry?”
“Yes—why don't you go to bed?” was the somewhat ungracious response.
“I am not sleepy. May I come down and join you?”
“Will you come up and join me?”
The answer was about to be “No”; there was a moment's hesitation, then Nora's voice said pleadingly, “Ah, do now, Terry; I want to say something so badly.”
“But if anybody hears?”
“They can't hear. Father and mother's room is at the other end of the house.”
“All right; don't say any more; you'll wake people with that chatter of yours. I'm coming.”
In a couple of minutes there was a knock at Nora's door. She flew to open it, and Terence came in.
“What do you want?” he said.
“To talk to you; I have got something to say. Come over and sit by the window.”
Terence obeyed.
“The first thing to do is to put out that light,” said Nora. She ran to the dressing table, and before her brother could prevent her had extinguished the candle.
“Now, then, there is the dear old lady moon to look down upon us, and nothing else can see us.”
“Why don't you go to bed, Nora? Hannah would say that you are losing your beauty-sleep sitting up at this, hour.”
“As if anything about me mattered just now,” said Nora.
“Why, what's up?”
“The old thing, Terry; you must know what's up.”
“What old thing? I am sure I can't guess.”
“Well, then, if you can't you ought. Father is in a peck of trouble—a peck of trouble.”
Nora's voice broke and trembled. Terence, who disliked a scene beyond anything, fidgeted restlessly. He leaned out of the window, and dropped his cigar ash on the ground beneath.
“And you are his only son and the heir to Castle O'Shanaghgan.”
“The heir to a pack of ruins,” said the boy impatiently.
“Terry, you don't deserve to be father's son. How dare you speak like that of the—the beloved old place?”
“Come, come, Nora, if you are going into heroics I think I'll be off to bed,” said Terence, yawning.
“No, you won't; you must listen. I have got something most important to say.”
“Well, then, I will give you five minutes; not another moment. I know you, Nora; you always exaggerate things. You are an Irishwoman to your backbone.”
“I am, and I glory in the fact.”
“You ought to be ashamed to glory in it. Don't you want to have anything to do with mother and her relations?”
“I love my mother, but I am glad I don't take after her,” said Nora; “yes, I am glad.”
The moon shone on the two young faces, and Nora looked up at her brother; he put on a supercilious smile, and folded his arms across his broad chest.
“Yes,” she replied; “and I should like to shake you for looking like that. I am glad I am Irish through and through and through. Would I give my warm heart and my enthusiasm for your coldness and deliberation?”
“Good gracious, Nora, what a little ignorant thing you are! Do you suppose no Englishman has enthusiasm?”
“We'll drop the subject,” said Nora. “It is one I won't talk of; it puts me into such a boiling rage to see you sitting like that.”
Terence did not speak at all for a moment; then he said quietly:
“What is this thing that you have got to tell me? The five minutes are nearly up, you know.”
“Oh, bother your five minutes! I cannot tell you in five minutes. When my heart is scalded with unshed tears, how can I measure time by minutes? It has to do with father; it is worse than anything that has ever gone before.”
“What is it, Norrie?” Her brother's tone had suddenly become gentle. He laid his hand for a moment on her arm; the gentleness of the tone, the unexpected sweetness of the touch overcame Nora; she flung her arms passionately round his neck.
“Oh, and you are the only brother I have got!” she sobbed; “and I could love you—I could love you like anything. Can't you be sympathetic? Can't you be sweet? Can't you be dear?”
“Oh, come, come!” said Terence, struggling to release himself from Nora's entwining arms; “I am not made like you, you know; but I am not a bad chap at heart. Now, what is it?”
“I will try and tell you.”
“And for goodness' sake don't look so sorrowfully at me, Nora; we can talk, and we can act and do good deeds, without giving ourselves away. I hate girls who wear their hearts on their sleeves.”
“Oh! you will never understand,” said Nora, starting back again; all her burst of feeling turned in upon herself. “I can't imagine how you are father's son,” she began. But then she stopped, waited for a moment, and then said quietly, “There is a fresh mortgage, and it is for a very big sum.”
“Oh, is that all?” said Terence. “I have heard of mortgages all my life; it seems to be the fashion at O'Shanaghgan to mortgage to any extent. There is nothing in that; father will give up a little more of the land.”
“How much land do you think is left?”
“I am sure I can't say; not much, I presume.”
“It is my impression,” said Nora—“I am not sure; but it is my impression—that there is nothing left to meet this big thing but the—the—the land on which”—her voice broke—“Terry, the land on which the house stands.”
“Really, Nora, you are so melodramatic. I don't know how you can know anything of this.”
“I only guess. Mother is very unhappy.”
“Mother? Is she?”
“Ah, I have touched you there! But anyhow, father is in worse trouble than he has been yet; I never, never saw him look as he did tonight.”
“As if looks mattered.”
“The look I saw tonight does matter,” said Nora. “We were coming home from Cronane, and I was driving.”
“It is madness to let you drive Black Bess,” interrupted Terence. “I wonder my father risks spoiling one of his most valuable horses.”
“Oh, nonsense, Terry; I can drive as well as you, and better, thanks,” replied Nora, much nettled, for her excellent driving was one of the few things she was proud of. “Well, I turned round, and I saw father's face, and, oh! it was just as if someone had stabbed me through the heart. You know, or perhaps you don't, that the last big loan came from Squire Murphy.”
“Old Dan Murphy; then we are as safe as we can be,” said Terence, rising and whistling. “You really did make me feel uncomfortable, you have such a queer way; but if it is Dan Murphy, he will give father any amount of time. Why, they are the best of friends.”
“Well, father went to see him on the subject—I happen to know that—and I don't think he has given him time. There is something wrong, anyhow—I don't know what; but there is something very wrong, and I mean to find out tomorrow.”
“Nora, if I were you I wouldn't interfere. You are only a young girl, and these kind of things are quite out of your province. Father has pulled along ever since you and I were born. Most Irish gentlemen are poor in these days. How can they help it? The whole country is going to ruin; there is no proper trade; there is no proper system anywhere. The tenants are allowed to pay their rent just as they please——”
“As if we could harry them,” said inconsistent Nora. “The poor dears, with their tiny cots and their hard, hard times. I'd rather eat dry bread all my days than press one of them.”
“If these are your silly views, you must expect our father to be badly off, and the property to go to the dogs, and everything to come to an end,” said the brother in a discontented tone. “But there, I say once more that you have exaggerated in this matter; there is nothing more wrong than there has been since I can remember. I am glad I am going to England; I am glad I am going to be out of it all for a bit.”
“You going to England—you, Terry?”
“Yes. Don't you know? Our Uncle George Hartrick has asked me to stay with him, and I am going.”
“And you can go? You can leave us just now?”
“Why, of course; there will be fewer mouths to feed. It's a good thing every way.”
“But Uncle George is a rich man?”
“What of that?”
“I mean he lives in a big place, and has heaps and heaps of money,” said Nora.
“So much the better.”
“You cannot go to him shabby. What are you going to do for dress?”
“Mother will manage that.”
“Mother!” Nora leaped up from the window-ledge and stood facing her brother. “You have spoken to mother?”
“Of course I have. Dear me, Nora, you are getting to be quite an unpleasant sort of girl.”
“You have spoken to mother,” repeated Nora, “and she has promised to help you? How will she do it?”
Terence moved restlessly.
“I suppose she knows herself how she will do it.”
“And you will let her?” said Nora—“you, a man, will let her? You know she has no money; you know she has nothing but her little trinkets, and you allow her to sell those to give you pleasure? Oh, I am ashamed of you! I am sorry you are my brother. How can you do it?”
“Look here, Nora, I won't be scolded by you. After all, I am your elder, and you are bound, at any rate, to show me decent outward respect. If you only mean to talk humbug of this sort I am off to bed.”
Terence rose from his place on the window-ledge, and, without glancing at Nora, left the room. When he did so she clasped her hands high above her head, and sat for a moment looking out into the night. Her face was quivering, but no tears rose to her wide-open eyes. After a moment she turned, and began very slowly to undress.
“I will see the Banshee tomorrow, if it is possible,” she whispered under her breath. “If ruin can be averted, it shall be. I don't mind leaving the place; I don't mind starving. I don't mind anything but that look on father's face. But father's heart shall not be broken; not while Nora O'Shanaghgan is in the world.”

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved